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A knock sounded at the door. “Pizza’s here.” She plonked her glass on the table as she rose. “I’ll get it.”

They settled at the island in the middle of her kitchen and demolished the pizza. No dishes or cutlery. Just the box and their hands. Trick entertained her with random tales of things that had happened on pack territory, and she knew he was hoping to lure her into going back for another visit. She also knew she’d probably go back at some point.

By the time they’d eaten the last of the pizza, her gray cloud had lifted and she felt lighter. She had no idea how just having him around could ease her mind and calm her system, but she was glad for it.

After they’d cleaned up, Trick pulled her to him. “As shit as it is, I have to go. My shift starts soon.”

Hiding her disappointment, Frankie smoothed a hand down his arm. “Okay.” She sighed into his mouth as he kissed her senseless with one hand collaring her throat. Her wolf bucked a little at the dominant move, but she also kind of liked it. The animal didn’t want him to leave; she wanted him to stay, wanted to bite and mark him. Not good.

Trick growled into her mouth. Her mouthwatering scent had warmed and ripened with arousal, and all he wanted was to bend her over the kitchen island and fuck her hard. Instead he eased back and brushed her nose with his. “Now, why do you look freaked out?”

“My wolf likes you a little too much.”

“So do you,” he teased. “You’re not ready for me yet. But you will be.” She walked him to the front door, where he gave her one last, thorough kiss. “I’ll pick you up at six tomorrow.”

Frankie frowned at his back as he walked away. “Wait, what?”

He turned, but he didn’t stop walking. “I’ll be here at six. Be ready.”

“For what?”

He looked at her like she was simple. “To go see a movie.”

“I never said I was going to see a movie with you.”

“Yes, you did. While we were eating pizza. I said, ‘We should go see a movie tomorrow.’ You said, ‘Trick, how did you know I wanted to go see a movie? It’s like we have one mind.’”

Frankie laughed. “I did not say that.”

“Sure you did.” He pointed at her. “Six. Be ready.”

CHAPTER SEVEN

Someone dropped their popcorn all over the patterned carpet, and Frankie winced in sympathy. Waiting in the long queue for the concession counter, she rested her hand on the rope and looked at the pricing boards for the snacks and drinks. The foyer of the movie theater was well lit and cheerful with all the framed posters and cardboard cutouts for new and upcoming releases.

Trick’s front was pressed against her back, and he’d slung one arm over her shoulder so that he could breeze his fingers along her collarbone. He was a little tense, which wasn’t surprising. A group of girls in the line parallel to theirs kept glancing at him with knowing looks, talking quietly to one another about the YouTube video he was featured in. One girl even subtly snapped a picture of him with her cell phone. It was clear that he despised the attention and the heroic image that people had of him. Just remembering the look on his face when a kid in the parking lot outside had pleaded for an autograph made her smile. And now those girls had him tense as a bow.

Feeling her shake with silent laughter, Trick spoke into her ear. “What’s funny?”

“The big, bad enforcer is scared of some giggling teenage girls.”

He nipped her earlobe in punishment for teasing him. “The last set of teenage girls that came asking for an autograph also wanted a photo of me holding each of them just like I’d held the girl on the video. Stop laughing, it’s not funny. It’s whacked.”

“What did you do?”

“Grunted at them and walked away. What else was I going to do?”

“And now you’re snuggling up to me so those girls don’t get any ideas—effectively you’re using me as a shield.”

“I’m snuggling up to you because you smell good and I like having you close.” His wolf pushed up against his skin for the same reasons, truly content at that moment. Nuzzling her neck, Trick took in her scent, letting it override the smells of popcorn, nachos, spices, and fruity slushes. He was on a date with his mate. Life was good.

It would be fair to say he’d tricked her into going on the date, but only because he’d known that she wouldn’t fuss about it. One thing he really liked about Frankie was that there were no games. No playing hard to get. No acting like she was there under protest. No lies or bullshit. No playing it cool. It was fucking refreshing, and it made her easy to be around.

She was complex in that she had lots of facets—all of which fascinated him—but she was otherwise straightforward and uncomplicated. He loved that. Loved that he could trust her to say what she truly thought and felt, that he didn’t have to waste time reading between the lines.

He was snapped out of his musings as a kid playing on a token machine whooped with joy. Trick slipped his free arm around Frankie’s waist, holding her to him even as they stepped forward with the slow-moving queue. That was another thing he loved: he knew it was strange for her to have someone she barely knew touching her so often, but she didn’t pull away. She let herself relax with him, even though she had to be confused about just why it was so easy for her.

“You should stop nuzzling and nipping my neck,” said Frankie.

“Why?”

Quietly she replied, “Because it’s making you hard, and it’s making me all flustered.” Frankie felt his lips curve against her neck.

“I know. I can smell that you’re wet.”

And she could feel that he was hard. Considering his body was practically folded around hers, Frankie figured she probably should have felt a little claustrophobic. But she didn’t. She felt safe. Protected. Cosseted, even. Her wolf liked having him so close, liked the possessiveness in his touch.

He didn’t release her until, finally, they arrived at the counter. As the cashier rang up their order, Frankie grabbed straws and napkins from the dispensers. Just as they were walking away with their popcorn and sodas in hand, Frankie spotted none other than Vance and Layla heading toward the concession lines. And sadly, they spotted her. Well, hell.

She’d bumped into them once shortly after she and Vance broke up. Layla had clung to him, sending her smug looks. He’d been civil yet stiff toward Frankie, eager to get away. The next day he’d called Frankie to apologize for being unfriendly, explained that he just hadn’t wanted to “set Layla off.”

Today, well, Layla was too busy staring at Trick to care about sending superior looks at Frankie. And her wolf did not like the female appreciation in Layla’s eyes whatsoever. Vance’s gaze, hard and unreadable, danced from Trick to Frankie.

It was Trick who broke the awkward silence. “There a problem here?”

Layla almost jolted. “No, not at all. Frankie’s decided to be rude, so I’ll introduce us. I’m Layla, and this is Vance. We’re . . . distant friends of Frankie’s.”

Unconvinced, Trick drawled, “Right.” He could sense his mate’s discomfort, just as he could sense that there had once been something between her and Vance. It was clear to see in the way the human male looked at her with an intimate familiarity—something that pissed Trick the fuck off. It was also clear by Vance’s pinched expression and tight muscles that he didn’t like seeing Frankie with another male. Tough fucking shit.

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